FULTON, Ill. — The Fulton High School golf team is in a transition year, with only two players returning from their state golf team of two years ago and a new head coach at the helm.
An assistant with the team last year, Mitch Van Zuiden is in his first year at the helm of the Fulton Steamer golf team. The golf team had two players on last year’s team move on to play college at Blackhawk Community College and St. Ambrose University, Van Zuiden said. They have an inexperienced team this year, with only two players remaining from the 2019 state golf team that placed seventh in the state tournament.
But this year’s team has two players with a plethora of varsity experience, Ian Wiebenga and Landon Meyers. The rest of the team is encompassed of upperclassmen who do not have varsity experience, Van Zuiden said.
“I’m going to help them the best I can to get to the next level to state,” Van Zuiden said. “The other guys are filling in to help as best as they can.”
Last year, Wiebenga scored well enough at sectionals to qualify for the state tournament. However, the state tournament was not held last year, Van Zuiden said.
There are multiple areas Van Zuiden is focusing on to help the Steamers improve this year, he said. While the team does need to play rounds of golf, the younger players on the team need more range time and short game practice, he said. They also are learning golf etiquette and learning golf course management, Van Zuiden said.
Van Zuiden noted progress a couple underclassmen, including Brady Read, have made in the short time since practice began Aug. 9. He started practicing in July after baseball season and recently shot a 46 score for a round, Van Zuiden said. This year’s team has a great group of players, Van Zuiden believes.
The golf team already has multiple competitions under its belt. Golf practice began Aug. 9 and the first meet was Aug. 12. The Northwest Upstate Illini Conference golf tournament is slated for Sept. 22. Regionals will be held Oct. 4, with the state tournament scheduled for Oct. 8 and 9.